Yesterday, May 10, 2012 I spoke to a Myanmar business lady in her late 40s. "Why did you migrate to Singapore in 1995?" I asked as she was from one of those from a good family in Yangon and had a vast network of good friends in Yangon and had much to lose living in Singapore.
"I married a sea-man and I accept that he would be at sea for many months," she said. "I was working happily with UNICEF in Yangon and had my family and friends. My husband decided to start a business in Singapore and so he was not at sea for long periods of time. My mum said to me that marriage is not like a a ship. My husband is no longer sailing for months at sea. He, like any man would be susceptible to the charms of other women in Singapore.Therefore she advised me to stay in Singapore to ensure that my marriage is strong."
"Wouldn't a seaman be having other women when the ship lands at a country?" I asked.
"Well, that may happen but if a man is on land, far away from his wife, he has much more opportunities to break up his marriage by getting involved with other women.
"In Myanmar, husbands have been sent to other towns while their working wives stays back. In one of such frequentl occuring marriage breakup cases, the husband (teacher) fell in love with the food stall lady and left his wife.
"How did this happen?" she read my mind as a teacher falling in love with a food stall lady sounds incredible. But love conquers all.
"You see," she elaborated. "He has to eat outside as he does not cook and every day she sees this food stall lady. I have read a novel about an expatriate Caucasian who fell in love with his Filipino maid and divorced his wife. Such events happen in all countries, due to the loneliness of the man in a foreign land.
"You really read such novels?" I asked. On her table were some books written by a Myanmar author, selling for $30. The books were in Myanmar language but it was an expose of the wheelings and dealing done in Myanmar as written by this author who was the middle-man.
"Yes, I have read this novel. There are disadvantages of long separation from my family. Now my father in Yangon has dementia and can't recognise me. You can see also that Khin Khin's father died while she was working in Singapore. These are the trade-offs when the child migrates."
"How old is your mum now and is she having dementia?" I asked.
"My mum is 83 years old and her mind is as sharp as ever."
"Your mum is very wise," I said. "Nowadays, the multi-national corporations have a ruling that the expatriate man must be accompanied by his wife if he accepts a posting to Asia. So, your mum is very wise. "
Her marriage is very good as I have met your husband. One can see that a wife's marriage is good or not, sometimes from her facial features of contentment, very hard to describe in writing and she was happy, in my meeting with her over the past years.
She is also a good business woman as she took over her husband's Singapore business and expanded it. She switched on to google maps to show me where she lived and invested as I was enquiring about the property sector in Myanmar. Somehow, when an Asian wife who is smart in business, the family thrives.
PROPERTY INVESTMENT IN MYANMAR IN 2012
No housing loan for locals. Military bank gives loan to qualifed persons.
Business loan at fixed 15% previously, now 13% per annum. Not meant for housing loan.
Full redemption (cash) after one or two years and new loan contract may be given.
Loan at around 25% of house value, the house being the collateral but it is not a housing loan.
Foreigners can't buy land or houses.
Myanmar people don't like to "cross a river" to their house and so will not buy a house across the river. However, there was a successful project with well built houses attracting the upper end buyers.
Property prices have gone up 2-5X and prices are incredibly high nowadays compared to 2008. Just 4 years ago.
A project by YOMA launched in Singapore in April 2012 had excellent response from Myanmar people in Singapore. A 2-bedroom condo facing the river sold for S$120,000. $1,000 deposit. 10 monthly instalments of $5,000/month. Balance to be paid.